ASEAN representatives meet with Myanmar junta leader

Kyodo News

Posted at Jun 04 2021 10:45 PM

ASEAN representatives meet with Myanmar junta leader 1
Myanmar's military junta leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, speaks in a media broadcast in Naypyitaw, Myanmar February 8, 2021 in this still image taken from video. MRTV/Reuters TV via Reuters/File

YANGON - ASEAN's chief and a top Brunei diplomat met with Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in the capital Naypyitaw on Friday to discuss the crisis following last February's military coup.

The trip by Lim Jock Hoi, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Erywan Pehin Yusof, Brunei's second foreign minister, is considered to be in preparation for the envisioned dispatch of a special envoy to Myanmar.

It is not expected that they will have a chance to meet with the country's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

ASEAN held an extraordinary summit meeting in Indonesia in late April to discuss the situation in Myanmar, where turmoil caused by the Feb. 1 coup continues.

Five items were agreed upon, including the need for an immediate suspension of violence and the dispatch of a special envoy who would serve as a mediator in future dialogue between the junta and pro-democracy forces in the country.

It was earlier believed that the special envoy would be dispatched in mid-May, but the military has shown a negative attitude toward early acceptance.

Myanmar has said it will "give careful consideration to constructive suggestions" made by ASEAN leaders only "when the situation returns to stability in the country," making arrangements for dispatch of the special envoy potentially tricky.

Since the overthrow of Suu Kyi's civilian government, the junta has kept her and other prominent politicians in detention while using brute force against anti-coup protesters.

More than 840 people have been killed by the country's security forces since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that keeps track of deaths and arrests in Myanmar.

Pro-democracy forces have launched what they call the National Unity Government as Myanmar's sole legitimate governing body. But the junta has designated it as a terrorist organization and put its members on a wanted list for suspected treason.

A face-to-face foreign ministers' meeting between ASEAN and China is scheduled for this month, and ASEAN has a desire to attend the meeting after paving the way for dispatching the special envoy.

Brunei currently serves as chair of the 10-member ASEAN, whose members also include Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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